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The neuro-oncology program at Maine Medical Center treats hundreds of patients each year with brain tumors and spinal tumors. The top cancer specialists and neurology specialists work together for skilled evaluation and treatment of adults and children.

What is neuro-oncology?

Neuro-oncology is a specialty that includes medical oncology and neurological oncology. Neuro-oncology programs evaluate, diagnose and treat patients with brain tumors, spinal cord tumors and the neurological side effects of other cancers. Doctors trained in neuro-oncology include neurosurgeons, neurologists, pathologists, neuro-radiologists and medical oncologists and radiation oncologists.

Highly specialized care for brain and spinal tumors

The neuro-oncology program at Maine Medical Center Neuroscience Institute offers expertise and experience that is unmatched in Maine. The neuro-oncology program has leading-edge care, including an array of clinical trials, for common and rare tumors of the brain and spinal cord.

Specialists use advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment. This allows for 3D imaging, precise targeting of tumors, and protecting of surrounding brain tissue. They understand each patient’s unique needs, and work closely with primary care providers to coordinate care.

Neuro-oncology conditions treated

Most brain tumors are named after the brain cells where they start:

  • Astrocytomas: Brain cancer that often starts in the cerebrum. They form when astrocytes, which are star-shaped cells in the brain, change into abnormal cells and grow out of control. There are many different types of astrocytoma.

  • Glioblastomas (GBM), gliosarcomas: Fast-growing type of astrocytoma. This type of brain tumor typically spreads quickly and is malignant (cancerous). GBM most often is diagnosed in men over the age of 50. About 10 percent of pediatric brain tumors are GBM.

  • Mixed malignant gliomas: These tumors form in more than one type of brain cell. They are most often diagnosed in adults, but this type of brain cancer can also form in children.

  • Ependymomas: Tumors at the center of the spinal cord and in brain cavities filled with cerebrospinal fluid. They grow from ependymal brain cells. Most often found in children or in middle-aged adults.

  • Germinomas: Germ cell tumors often diagnosed in the brain and above the pituitary gland. These often are fast-growing tumors that are more common in men than women. Children also can be diagnosed with this type of tumor.

  • Meningiomas: Tumors that often are noncancerous and form in the coverings of the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas most often are diagnosed in older women.

  • Oligodendrogliomas: Type of brain tumor found in cells that form coatings around nerve cells. They form in brain cells called oligodendrocytes. This type of brain cancer is most often diagnosed in younger adults and middle-aged adults.

  • Primary CNS lymphomas: Lymphoma is cancer that forms in the lymph glands. In the brain, the cancer is called primary CNS lymphoma.

  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, esthesioneuroblastoma): Cancerous tumors affecting soft tissue and bones.

  • Spinal osteosarcoma: Bone cancer of the cervical spine.

  • Ewing's sarcoma: Cancer that forms in and around the bones.

  • Chondrosarcoma: Cancer affecting the bones and joints.

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